‘Savvy Summer Spenders’ Focused on Getting Most Out of Travel Purchases

Earning Cash Back Top of Mind for Americans Hitting the Open Road, According to New Poll from Chase Freedom and U.S. News

WILMINGTON, Del. — July 13, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — Despite widespread economic concerns, fewer Americans are planning to skip summer outings this year compared to last year, according to a new poll released today by Chase Card Services, a division of JPMorgan Chase & Co. [NYSE: JPM], and U.S. News & World Report. The Chase Freedom-U.S. News Consumer Monitor found that with more than eight in 10 Americans planning to use their car the same or more than they did last summer, consumers are keenly focused on getting the most out of every travel purchase.

The survey revealed Americans are planning a summer of fun, full of traditional activities with family and friends that require more time behind the wheel than last year. Moreover, the findings highlight the types of rewards consumers are interested in earning for such travel purchases. By more than a three-to-one margin, consumers found 5 percent cash back the most appealing rewards program when considering which credit card reward program to choose.

“This is the summer of the savvy spender,” said William S. Wallace, president, Chase Card Services. “Consumers want to have more fun this summer, but they also want to spend responsibly and get the most out of every dollar they spend, whether it’s taking a trip closer to home or using a financial product that rewards them for purchases they’re making.”

While economic uncertainty continues to influence consumer behavior, the survey revealed 36 percent of respondents believe their personal finances have already bottomed out and are getting better. Similarly, 62 percent believed they are at least mostly in control of their personal finances.

The Chase Freedom-U.S. News Consumer Monitor, fielded by Ipsos Public Affairs, surveyed 1,000 adults nationwide about their travel plans, spending, and general economic outlook this summer. The results include trended data from the Chase Consumer Spending & Saving Survey, fielded by Braun Research in May 2009.

Americans Want More ‘Rewards per Gallon’

With 86% of Americans planning to use their car the same or more than they did last summer, consumers are looking at a new kind of fuel efficiency – how many rewards they can expect to receive per gallon. Chase Freedom®, recognized as the Editor’s Pick: Best Gas Rebate Card by leading consumer information website CardRatings.com, offers customers a total of 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in gasoline, airline, hotel, and car rental purchases through September 2010. On all other purchases, customers get a full 1 percent cash back – with no limits, tiers, or expiration dates.

 
Much More
Somewhat More
About the Same
Somewhat Less
Much Less
“Compared to your last vacation, do you anticipate traveling by car more or less, or about the same?”
18%
8%
60%
6%
6%

Where This Year’s Road Warriors Are Heading

Fewer Americans are depriving themselves of summertime activities compared to last year – 49 percent of respondents are not planning on skipping their vacation this summer. The most popular activities planned for this summer include taking a road trip (55 percent) and trips to the beach (48 percent). Movies (53 percent), summer music concerts (38 percent), and minor league baseball games (26 percent) are closer-to-home activities that are also high on the agenda for many consumers this summer. Americans’ concern about the economy persists from last year’s “stay-cation summer,” but fewer are willing to scale back their own plans:

Plan to make this change or something very similar this summer…
June 2010
May 2009
Skipping a typical summer vacation or outing for a weekend or longer
16%
29%
Cutting back on summer novelty purchases like barbeque grills or pool memberships
19%
23%
Cutting back on summer activities like summer camp or Little League
12%
15%

This year, Chase Freedom is offering ”buy one get one free” movie tickets and exclusive screenings, VIP experiences at summer festivals, giveaways at some of the country’s hottest beaches, and discounts on popular summer pursuits. The events are all part of Chase’s first Summer of Freedom tour, which is traveling across the country so customers can enjoy the summer even more.

Spotlight on the Savviest Summer Spenders

Americans between the ages of 35 to 44 are the most likely to plan to take a vacation this summer (57 percent) and second-most likely to plan a road trip (59 percent) or an outing to the beach (56 percent). These intrepid travelers are also the savviest summer spenders, having identified 5 percent cash back as the most appealing type of rewards program when selecting a credit card, by more than a four-to-one margin over retailer discounts or travel rewards.

Overall, more than half of consumers (56 percent) agree that if a company offers a rewards program, they will choose that company over others that don’t have a program. Five percent cash back on purchases was the overwhelming favorite rewards program for consumers of all ages – 49 percent said it was the most appealing rewards program when selecting a credit card.

Chase Freedom’s approach to rewards is straightforward with consistent cash back without minimums or expirations. In addition to the total 5 percent cash back customers can earn on seasonal promotions, customers earn a full 1 percent on all other purchases with the very first purchase. The average consumer charges $5,700 annually and would just begin to qualify for the full earn rate on many current cash back programs that require up to $3,000 or even $6,500 in spending before earning the maximum base cash back level.¹

Chase Freedom-U.S. News Monitor Methodology

Ipsos conducted the poll June 15-21, 2010 on behalf of Chase Card Services and U.S. News & World Report, among a nationally representative, randomly selected sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 and older across the United States. With a sample of this size, results are considered accurate within 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire U.S. adult population been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. The data was weighted to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to U.S. Census figures. Respondents had the option to be interviewed in English or Spanish.

About JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.0 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries and the company has approximately 145 million credit cards in the United States and Canada. The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers, small business and commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management and private equity. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world's most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.

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¹Lightspeed Research 2009 Financial Services Behavioral Tracking Panel